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Platonicus, who, if Macbeth had then appeared on the stage, would probably have mentioned fome thing of it. It should be likewise remembered, that there subfifted at that time, a fpirit of oppofition and rivalship between the regular players and the academicks of the two univerfities; the latter of whom frequently acted plays both in Latin and English , and seem to have piqued themselves on the superiority of their exhibitions to thofe of the established theatres.” Wishing probably to manifest this fuperiority to the royal pedant, it is not likely that they would choose fora collegiate interlude, (if this little performance deserves that name,) a subject which had already appeared on the publick stage, with all the embellishments that the magick hand of Shakspeare could bestow.
In the following July (1606) the king of Denmark came to England on a visit to his after, Queen Anne, and on the third of August was installed a knight of the garter. “ There is nothing to be heard at court,” (fays Drummond of Hawthornden in a letter dated that day, ) " but founding of trumpets, hautboys, mufick, revellings, and comes dies.” Perhaps during this visit Macbeth was first exhibited.
* Ab ejusdem collegii aluminis (qui & cothurno tragico & focco comico principes femper habebantur) Vertumnus, com ædia faceta, ad principes exhilarandos exhibetur. Rex Platonicus, p. 78.
Arcadiam restauratam Ifiacorum Arcadum lectissimi cecines runt, imoque opere, principum omniumque fpectantium animos immenfa & ultra fidem affecerunt voluptate ; fimulque patrios ludiones, etsi exercitatiflimos, quantum interfit inter Scenam mercenarium & eruditam docuerunt. ib. p. 228. See also The Return from Parnassus, (A& IV. fc. iii.) which was acted publickly at St. John's college in Cambridge.
This tragedy contains an allusion to the union of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland, under one sovereign, and also to the cure of the king's-evil by the royal touch. A ritual for the healing of that diftemper was established carly in this reign; but in what year that pretended power was assumed by King James I. is uncertain.
Macbeth was not entered in the Stationers' books, nor printed, till 1623.
In The Tragedy of. Cæfar and Pompey, or Cæsar's Revenge, are these lines:
Why, think you, lords, that’tis ambition's fpur " That pricketh Cæfar to these high attempts? If the author of that play, which was published in 1607, should be thought to have had Macbeth's soliloquy in view , (which is not unlikely,) this circumstance may add some degree of probability to the supposition that this tragedy had appeared before that year :
I have no Spair
Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself,
At the time when Macbeth is supposed to have ; been written, the subject, it is probable, was consi
dered as a topick the most likely to conciliate the favour of the court. In the additions to Warner's Albion's England, which were first printed in 1606, the story of " The Three Fairies or Weird Elves, as he calls thein, is shortly told, and King James's descent from Banquo carefully deduced.
Macbeth, A st IV. sc. i. ii.
Ben Jonson, a few years afterwards , paid his couít to his majesty by his Masque of Queens , * presented at Whitehall, Feb. 12, 1609; in which he has given a minute detail of all the magick rites that are recorded by King James in his book of Damonologie, or by any other author ancient or modern.
Mr. Steevens has lately discovered a MS. play, entitled The Witch, written by Thomas Middleton, s which renders it questionable, whether Shak
• Mr. Upton was of opinion that this masque preceded Macbeth. But the only ground which he states for this conjecture, is, " that Jonson's pride would not suffer him to borrow from Shakspeare, though he stole from the ancients."
5 In an advertisement prefixed to an adition of A Mad World my Masters, a comedy by Thomas Middleton, 1640, the printer says, that the author was " long since dead." Middleton probably died soon after the year 1626. He was chronologer to the city of London, and it does not appear that any masque or pageant, in honour of the Lord Mayor, was set forth by him after that year. * From the dates of his printed plays, and from the ensuing verses on his last performance, by Sir William Lower, we may conclude, that he was as early a writer, and at least as old, as Shakspeare :
• Tom Middleton his numerous issue brings,
" And his white locks shew master of his art. The following dramatick pieces by Middleton appear to have been published in his life.time. Your Five Gallants, no date. — Blurt Master Constable, or the Spaniard's Night-Walk, 1602. Michaelmas Term, 1607. The Phænix, 1607.The Family of Love, 1608.-A Trick to catch the Old One, 1608.A mad World my Masters, 1608. The Roaring Girl, or Moll Cutpurse, 1611. — Fair Quarrel, 1617. - Chaste Maid of Cheapside, 1620. — A Game at Cheffe, no date. . Most of his
* The Triumph of Health and Prosperity at the Inauguration of the most worthy Brother, the Right Hon. Cuthbert Hasket, draper; composed by Thomas Middleton, draper, 1626, 410. Vol. II.
speare was not indebted to that author for the first hint of the magick introduced in this tragedy. The reader will find an account of this fingular curiosity in the note. 6-To the observations of Mr. Stee
other plays were printed, about thirty years after his death, by Kirkman and other booksellers, into whose hands his manuscripts fell.
6 In a former note on this tragedy, I have said that the original edition contains only the two first words of the fong in the 4th act, beginning—Black Spirits, &c; but have lately discovered the entire stanza in an unpublished dramatick piece, viz. “ A Tragi-Coomodie called THE WITCH: long since acted by his Majesiy's Servants at the Black Friers; written by Middleton. The song is there called
" A charmesong, about a vessell.” The other song omitted in the 5th scene of the 3d act of Macbeth, together with the imperfect couplet there, may likewife be found, as follows, in Middleton's performance.' – The Hecate of Shakspeare says:
16 I am for the air." &c.
in the air.
.. With all the fpeed I may,
'c. With all the speed I may. " Wher's Stadin ?
" Heere. ] in the aire. Wher's Puckle?
" Heere. ] in the aire. " And Hoppo too, and Hellvaine too. " We lack but you, we lack but you : in the aire.
There's one comes downe to fetch
I mufe, I muse,
16 Come away;
vens I have only to add, that the songs, beginning, Come away, &c. and Black fpirils, &c. being found
" Since the air's so sweet and good. " Hec. Oh, art thou come?
What newes, what newes?
Now I am furnish'd for the flight. “ Fire.] Hark, hark, the catt fings a brave treble in her
(owne language.. “ Hec.going up.] Now I goe, now I flie,
“ Malkin, my sweete fpirit, and I. " Oh what a daintie pleasure 'tis,
6. To ride in the aire,
" When the moone shines faire,
" Over woods, high rocks and mountains,
" Over seas, our mistris' fountains,
No ring of bells to our eares sounds,
" No ring of bells, &c.] above.
Finis Acbus Tercii.”
l'll charm the air to give a found,
[ 11 u fick. The t'ilches dance and vanish.
sweete filters, let the aire strike our tune, " Whilst we fhew reverence to yond peeping moone.
Here they dance and Exeunt.